My Early Perceptions of PR

By September 14, 2017Stories

I’d only been in my first year at Northumbria for a couple of months, but recording radio broadcasts, writing articles and filming documentaries were already part of my everyday University life. My Journalism course covered such a range of styles and medias that at that moment, I had no idea of what type of job I’d want to go into when (and if) I finished the course.

In first year, everybody tells you “Don’t worry, first year isn’t important. You only need 40% to pass, and it doesn’t count towards your degree.” With that in mind, I relaxed and began to enjoy the freedom of university life.  The biggest decisions I was making were those of a classic student. What’s for tea; a pot noodle or beans on toast? Can I afford to spend £4 doing my laundry, or shall I just wait 3 more weeks until I’m home and get mum on the job?

But sitting in my seminar one day, I faced a dilemma. The biggest decision I’d made in months. A decision that could affect my future career. ‘Sports Journalism or PR?’

Still a fresher, the only sport I’d thought about in months was beer pong. I didn’t play sports. I didn’t particularly like sports. Sports Journalism didn’t seem like an option.

So, without much consideration, I chose PR. It wasn’t until later that evening, that I thought to myself – what actually is PR?

Now in my third year at University, I’m a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser. For example, I now know that ‘PR’ stands for ‘Public Relations’… If only everything were that simple.

Amelia French on PR

During my second year at University, I was thrown into the world of crisis management, press releases and vlogging, with a final assessment to create and market a new restaurant in Newcastle. Where would I even begin?

Making an imaginary restaurant may sound easy, but the overthinking soon kicked in. There’s a lot to consider; the style of cuisine, target markets, opening times, upcoming events. I’d think of an idea, and then ten minutes later scrap it for something completely different. But after approximately 300, beautifully coloured mind maps, I decided to keep it simple.

I followed the ‘work with what you know’ rule and targeted one of Newcastle’s biggest groups; Students. I chose a new tapas bar and restaurant in a popular student location. There students could buy cheap, delicious Spanish cuisine to share, and one night a week could take a ‘MasterChef’ cooking class to learn how to cook their favourite tapas selections using ingredients that don’t cost too much.

I created a website and social media pages, made leaflets, loyalty cards and ‘241’ vouchers, and wrote press releases aimed at publications for young people.

After my very imaginary restaurant received a very real booking for a party of six one Saturday, I realised I must have done a pretty professional job. Thankfully, my lecturers agreed, and I managed to gain a first in the module. But more importantly, having enjoyed it, I knew it was a career I’d like to pursue.

I now know that Public Relations is about an organisations reputation; and how they establish and maintain positive relationships with the public.

Initially, at university, I was told that PR is different to marketing. But what I’ve recently found is that, in the ‘real world’, the two often overlap.

PR and marketing professionals need to have good communication and writing skills. They need to be organised and time efficient. And most importantly, they need to be creative – and I’m hoping I’m just that.

Amelia French, Northumbria University